“I have always been fascinated by how FinTech can break down barriers of reach, scale and physical paperwork, create new opportunities, and redefine the way we think about financial services”- Sachin S., Director Legal-Regulatory & Licensing at PhonePe

This Interview has been published by Pragya Chandni and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you share with our listeners how your journey led you to the FinTech sector, and how you came to specialize in laws governing the FinTech?

Certainly! My journey within FinTech has been both exciting and fulfilling. It all began with a keen interest in technology and its transformative potential in financial inclusion.

During my early years as a lawyer, I observed the rapid growth and innovation in the FinTech space. I was fascinated by how startups were leveraging technology to create innovative solutions that addressed challenges in the financial industry. This led me to delve deeper into understanding the intricacies of FinTech law which continued to do a catch up behind technical innovation.

As I continued to work with startups, I realized that they face unique legal challenges that require specialized knowledge and expertise. From navigating complex regulatory landscapes to protecting intellectual property and ensuring compliance with evolving laws, startups in the FinTech sector need legal guidance tailored to their specific product offering and target audience.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with BankBazaar, KredX, Flipkart and Razorpay leading startups at various stages of their growth. This hands-on experience has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the industry’s nuances and the legal and compliance frameworks that govern it.

In addition to working directly with startups, I have also been actively involved in the broader FinTech community, attending closed group industry body forum discussions/ committees and seminars, and staying updated on the latest trends and developments in the industry. This continuous learning and engagement have been instrumental in honing my skills and staying ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving digital finance and payments industry.

You’ve had a diverse career path, ranging from law firm to in-house counsel. How have these different roles shaped your approach to legal advisory within the startup ecosystem?

Starting my career with a law firm provided me with a strong foundation in understanding the intricacies of legal practice and the importance of rigorous research, analysis, and advocacy. Working in a law firm environment exposed me to a wide range of clients and industries, allowing me to develop legal skills and the ability to adapt to different regulatory challenges and scenarios.

Transitioning to an in-house counsel role was a pivotal moment in my career. It offered me a unique perspective by immersing me directly into the operational and strategic aspects of a business. As an in-house counsel, I had the opportunity to work closely with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and cross-functional teams, gaining insights into the day-to-day challenges faced by startups and the broader business considerations that influence legal decisions.

This dual experience has enabled me to approach legal advisory within the startup ecosystem with a holistic and pragmatic mindset. I understand the importance of aligning legal strategies with business objectives, prioritizing risk mitigation while fostering innovation, and providing practical solutions that support startups in achieving their goals.

Moreover, having navigated both the law firm and in-house environments, I appreciate the value of collaboration and clear communication between legal counsel, business leaders, and cross functional stakeholders. I strive to build strong relationships based on trust, transparency, and open dialogue, ensuring that legal advice is not only legally sound but also actionable and tailored to the unique needs of the organization.

What sparked your interest in the FinTech and financial sectors? Could you elaborate on some of the innovative strategies you’ve employed in your legal practice?

I have always been fascinated by how FinTech can break down barriers of reach, scale and physical paperwork, create new opportunities, and redefine the way we think about financial services.

In my legal practice, I adopt a proactive stance towards regulatory compliance. Rather than reacting to regulatory shifts, I work with stakeholders to foresee future trends and develop compliant strategies from the get-go. This approach allows me to navigate the regulatory landscape confidently and strategically.

Additionally, I believe in collaborative relationships between startups, financial institutions, and regulatory bodies. By fostering open dialogue and partnerships, we can create a more harmonious ecosystem that encourages innovation while maintaining regulatory compliance and consumer protection. It is important to have regular open discussions with the regulators and licensing authorities to understand their perspective and their take on risks and consumer protection.

Given your extensive experience in areas such as digital lending, payments, and data protection, how do you stay updated with the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape in the FinTech industry?

Staying updated with the rapidly changing rules and regulations in the FinTech industry is crucial. To maintain a comprehensive understanding, I employ a systematic approach to staying informed. This approach allows me to deepen my expertise, refine my analytical skills, and adapt to the evolving regulatory environment effectively.

Firstly, I regularly read industry news, updates, and legal articles about FinTech. This helps me keep track of new rules or changes that could affect the industry and understand emerging trends related to FinTech.

Secondly, I attend seminars, workshops, and conferences focused on FinTech regulations and compliance whenever possible and actively participate in industry forums. These events provide valuable opportunities to learn from experts, engage in discussions with peers, and explore important issues in the field. Participating in these events allows me to share ideas, learn new strategies, and gain different perspectives on how to address regulatory challenges effectively.

As a mentor and leader, you’ve curated a proficient team of lawyers. How do you foster an environment of responsibility and dedication within your team, especially in such dynamic industries?

A captain is only as good as their team! Creating an inclusive work environment and ensuring equal opportunity within the team has always been a top priority for me. Here’s how we collaboratively approach this as a team:

Clear and open communication is fundamental to our team’s success. By setting transparent expectations and outlining our collective goals, we as a team develop a roadmap that empowers each team member to take ownership of their roles. This clarity not only offers direction but also cultivates a sense of purpose and accountability among all team members.

In the fast-paced FinTech, the power of collective intelligence is invaluable. We foster an environment that encourages knowledge sharing, open dialogue, and teamwork. This collaborative spirit enables us to harness diverse perspectives, drive innovation, and adapt effectively to challenges.

Recognizing the importance of celebrating achievements and milestones, we make it a point to acknowledge each other’s hard work, innovation, and dedication. This approach not only boosts morale but also fosters a culture where excellence is both recognized and encouraged.

Throughout your career, you’ve provided guidance on contract management, regulatory compliance, and legal matters. Could you share a particularly challenging case or project you’ve worked on and how you navigated through it?

One of the exciting projects I have worked on involved advising BankBazaar, my previous employer, on expanding into new international markets. The main challenge was dealing with different rules and regulations in each country about financial services and technology. Each place had its own laws, making it hard to make sure we followed all the rules.

To tackle this, I led a team to study the rules in each country carefully. We looked at what the local regulations were for the FinTech industry and what risks we might face. Based on this research, we created a detailed plan to help us follow the rules in each country while still achieving the company’s goals. 

Reflecting on your journey, what advice would you give to fresh graduates aspiring to pursue a career in law, especially those interested in specializing in the FinTech sector?

Here’s some advice I’d give to fresh graduates aiming for a career in law, especially in the FinTech sector. First, focus on developing your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These skills will help you tackle complex legal issues and find innovative solutions, making you stand out as a valuable legal professional. Second, be resilient and adaptable. The world outside law school can be challenging, so having the perseverance to overcome setbacks will help you grow stronger in your career.

Next, stay updated with technology and legal advancements. The legal sector is constantly evolving, and being tech-savvy will help you work more efficiently. Also, practice negotiation skills. These abilities will be crucial when resolving deadlocks and securing positive outcomes for your clients. Additionally, seek out a mentor or guru in your field of interest. I was fortunate enough to find one who guided me through both professional and personal challenges, providing invaluable insights and support.

Get in touch with Sachin S.-

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